Pretty Ballerinas Taps New Regions

NEW YORK — Pretty Ballerinas is raising the curtain on several new initiatives this year, with a spotlight on retail and category expansions.

The 8-year-old women’s label — owned by independent footwear firm Mascaró and made in the Spanish island Menorca — opened eight branded boutiques globally this fall, including a flagship in Tokyo. Plans are in the works for additional locations in London and Hong Kong by the end of 2013.

Pretty Ballerinas’ door count tallies 63 stores spanning five continents. While the brand already has four flagships in the U.S., founder David Bell said upping that number is a significant part of the growth plan. “The No. 1 priority is China, the big market that is growing fast. No. 2 is the United States,” he added, listing Chicago and Las Vegas as possible targets stateside. “The idea is to, within three years, be selling 30 percent outside Europe.”

Enhancing existing stores is also at the top of the to-do list. One addition will be a digitized shopping tool, set to roll out this winter. “A consumer can see the stock at other stores,” Bell said. “[For example], if you try on a brown style but you want the blue and we don’t have your size, you can buy it right there without the hassle of typing in all your credit card information, and we will send it free of charge to your house.”

E-commerce is another a major priority, and the brand — which has annual revenues of about $70 million — is launching a rewards program to help drive business. “[Online sales] have doubled every year for the last four years, and we are reaching a tipping point as far as global visibility,” Bell said.

Beyond its own retail, Pretty Ballerinas’ wholesale reach is increasing slowly but steadily. The label is carried by 800 retailers worldwide. While the majority of wholesale partners are high-end boutiques, Bloomingdale’s picked up the line for spring ’14.

Stylist and shop owner Thea Geck chose Pretty Ballerinas as one of the first labels to carry in her recently opened Berkeley, Calif., boutique, Thea. She said she was drawn to the brand’s fashion-focused ballet flats, which retail in the $179-to-$299 range, because of their comfort, craftsmanship and array of styles.

Geck noted the offerings already are bringing solid sales. “My customers know the brand and I have many people say, ‘I don’t even need to try them on. I wear them all the time,’” she said.

Additional product is also on the horizon for Pretty Ballerinas. The company bowed a sister brand, Pretty Loafers, for fall ’13. The new line is aimed at providing consumers with a more substantial shoe to wear during seasonal transitions, as well as attracting a new kind of customer.

“The loafer is more casual,” Bell said, adding that Pretty Loafers’ branding imagery focuses on a slightly edgier aesthetic, featuring Marlene Dietrich on the cover of the first lookbook. “There are girls who would never wear a ballerina because they perceive it to be too girly.”

The label also expanded its collection of Pretty Ballerinas booties, as well as accessories such as wallets and gloves this season.

And recently, the firm made its first foray into the apparel world. Leather jackets hit Pretty Ballerinas stores for fall, and Bell is considering expanding that category. “I’m investigating doing simple clothing that goes with the look of our product — items like skinny jeans and leggings with feminine detailing,” he said.

Access exclusive content